Like many around the world, when I started to see PwC's 2018 Sports Survey across my LinkedIn feed, I followed the prompts and downloaded it to take a look. In its third edition, PwC’s Sports Survey collected the views of 470 sport industry leaders on a wide variety of trends that are prevalent in today’s market.
There are some fantastic insights and quick stats to paint a picture of how sponsorship will look in the coming years, however, as I’m reading the front page, I get to the info graphic and BANG!
Right in your face, it reads:
“56.3% of industry leaders believe that senior management at global sponsors are behind the curve.”
I’m curious to dig deeper on this, especially given that, as an industry, we expect steady growth over the next few years in revenue streams attributed to sponsorship and advertising, digital media rights, and corporate hospitality. I find it hard to reconcile the finding with our industry expectations of growth because on one hand, we find that sponsors don't get it and then on the other, we expect them to pay more? They are not that silly.
Cue the big debate. I, however, genuinely believe this begs not only a question of whether sponsors actually get sponsorship, but are rights holders keeping up as well?
As we transition towards greater digital consumption, sports properties that are able to leverage their cross-platform data effectively will be well placed to help sponsors reach their target audience at a more granular level - David Dellea, Head of Sports Business Advisory, PwC
There’s no arguing that as digital consumption grows throughout the sporting world, so too does the number of opportunities to connect with more targeted audiences. This isn’t just in sport; it’s across every industry that buys and sells sponsorship. The report alludes to the fact that we are genuinely going to see a shift in how sponsorship rights are created and sold over the next few years.
There is a really big message here for brands and rights holders and I think everyone is in agreeance with it in that the days of the traditional sponsorship package are absolutely dead and gone. It’s like trying to hang onto that treasured perm you have or that favorite pair of jeans that really need to be tossed.
The times when sponsors could solely rely on the approach of a “turnkey” sponsorship package are clearly over” - Stephanie Vogel, Senior Manager; Sports Business Advisory, PwC
Brands and rights holders can’t expect to piece together sponsorship deals using the same inventory without any creativity or flexibility and then expect different results year-on-year. Stephanie Vogel points to the high need to develop multiple sub-strategies for different types of assets or sections within a deal; and I totally agree. For example, how and why a brand engages with an audience through OTT content is totally different to the reasons behind running activations at games or events.
The other message in this section should be glaringly obvious - it’s all about the fans. I wholeheartedly agree that content is king and if you’re not creating it, or at least part of the process, then you’re going to be overtaken sooner or later by a competitor.
“It is now a top priority for all rights holders to develop a direct relationship with their consumers” - Chris Guinness, Head of Asia Pacific, IMG
The report also points to branded content and consumer behaviours as big players in how sponsorship deals will be structured in the coming years. Whether this is delivered through the rights holder or the brand, being able to build relationships with a specific audience and then have the capacity to deliver a targeted message is critical these days.
It is no surprise that shifts in consumer behaviours are a major threat to how we deliver sponsorship, particularly when we continue to see a rise in different methods of delivery e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming, etc.
The sponsorship space is getting more and more complex by the day. The delivery of sponsorship for both rights holders and brands needs to stay aligned with where and how their message is being consumed.
With all of this in mind, there’s an ugly question looming in the background for me - do we have the right type of people or skill sets selling and constructing our sponsorship deals?
But that’s a conversation for another time…
Daniel Ferguson-Hill // Commercial Manager - AU/NZ
Daniel is a big believer in being genuine and authentic and brings those traits to each relationship. He has experience in national partnerships and business development across the sporting and not-for-profit landscape. He’s led national commercial teams and developed commercial, engagement, and membership strategies with concrete outcomes.
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